Presidential marriage: Mme Sarkozy, <i>la troisi&egrave;me</i>

Yesterday, the worlds of politics and celebrity met in matrimony as the French President married his girlfriend &ndash; but for how long?

John Lichfield
Sunday 03 February 2008 01:00
Since late November, France and the world have been fascinated by the whirlwind romance
Since late November, France and the world have been fascinated by the whirlwind romance

There comes a moment in every soap opera when the tension – "Will they? Won't they?" – has to end.

The President and the pop singer gave a grateful, waiting world a new plotline yesterday. After weeks of speculation, teasing comments and fake announcements, Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni got married.

The ceremony took place on the first floor of the Elysée Palace at 11am. The bride, 40, wore white. The bridegroom, 53, wore a suit and tie. They celebrated with fresh orange juice. The official witnesses at the civil ceremony were friends who worked for the luxury goods company LVMH and the upmarket fashion house Prada. For an increasingly unpopular President, accused of living a "bling-bling" lifestyle since his divorce three months ago, both marriage and witnesses might be seen as a statement of defiance.

The man who performed the ceremony said it was evident that bride and groom were "moved and very much in love". François Lebel, the mayor of the eighth arrondissement of Paris, said: "The bride was ravishing, as always, in white. The groom wasn't bad either. It was a moment of great simplicity and great affection between the newly married couple." It took the Elysée Palace seven hours to confirm that the wedding had taken place.

Since late November, France and the world have been fascinated by the whirlwind romance between a right-wing President who claims to represent traditional values and a left-wing former top model and pop singer who boasts that she is "bored stiff" by monogamy.

President Sarkozy, who was elected last May, has been married twice before. The new First Lady of France has been married once before but has been linked romantically to, among others, Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Donald Trump and the former (left-wing) French prime minister Laurent Fabius. In an interview with Le Figaro magazine a year ago, she said: "I'm monogamous from time to time, but I prefer polygamy and polyandry. Love lasts a long time, but burning desire – two or three weeks."

In October, Mr Sarkozy split with his wife Cécilia, becoming the first French head of state to divorce since the Emperor Napoleon. Yesterday he became the first French head of state to marry while in office since the obscure President Gaston Doumergue in 1931 (who was also married in the palace).

President Sarkozy and his new wife met in late November. They were first seen together at Disneyland, Paris, in December. At his New Year press conference, he said that their relationship was "serious", but made it clear that the press would not be invited to the wedding. Only a score of friends and family members were said to have been present.

President Sarkozy's popularity ratings have plunged in recent weeks – by another 11 points according to a poll published yesterday. Pollsters say that older and poorer voters have been alienated by a mixture of frustration with his failure to boost living standards and his much publicised showbiz lifestyle.

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